NEW MADRID -- Two main cogs on New Madrid County Central's basketball team signed letters of intent to play for Shawnee Community College on Wednesday.
Defensive specialist Terrance Smith and 6-foot-4 second team all-state postman Ronland Ranson both chose the Division II junior college.
"The big thing with those guys is that they've won," said Shawnee coach Wade Bouslog. "They won two straight state championships, then got beat in the championship game this year. That's amazing in high school basketball. They come from a great program and we're really excited about them."
Ranson averaged 15 points and 11 rebounds per game for the Class 3A runner-up Eagles.
"Ronland will probably make more of an impact immediately," said Bouslog. "He's a tough kid that just gets things done. I think he's going to add an element of toughness to our guys."
Ranson had a knack for coming up big in big games. As a sophomore, he scored 29 points and pulled down 16 rebounds against Park Hill South in the state championship game. As a junior, he scored the game-winning basket in the state semifinals against Jefferson City Helias.
"I really started playing ball in the eighth grade and just tried to get better and better every year," said Ranson. "I just want to see how far I can go. Hopefully I can continue to develop more skills as I grow older."
This year Ranson was first team all-SEMO Conference, first team all-region and second team all-state.
"I've known these guys all my life," Ranson said of his teammates. "We were close like a family. It's going to be tough to break apart. Each and every one of them did all they could do this year."
Smith, a 6-foot-3 off-guard, was NMCC's top defensive player. He contributed 9.2 points and 5.2 rebounds this year, hitting 30 three-pointers.
"Terrance has more potential," said Bouslog. "He may be a year away because of his skill level on the perimeter, but I like his athleticism and he's an intelligent kid. He has a chance to be really, really good."
Smith also had several memorable games for the Eagles, scoring 22 against Doniphan. He also led the Eagles with 15 points against DuQuoin, Ill., in the Class A championship game of the Carbondale Holiday Tournament.
In a barnburner against Charleston, he scored nine of his 14 in the fourth quarter and scored the final two points of the game at the free throw line.
"I'm looking forward to (playing for Shawnee)," said Smith. "I want to take another step in basketball and hopefully get a degree while I'm there."
With Ranson and Smith in the mix, NMCC finished with a record of 28-4 and was ranked No. 1 in Missouri 3A most of the year.
"Both of them had real solid seasons," said NMCC coach Joby Holland. "Terrance came back after missing most of last year and gave us some leadership. He was our best defensive player and was one of our better outside shooters. He hit some big shots for us. Ronland was probably the most consistent of anybody that we had throughout the year. He did a good job of hitting the boards and kind of got back to the form he was as a sophomore."
Shawnee was 4-26 last year and will lose just three players off that team. They will also add four red-shirts and two transfers.
"Both boys bring a lot to the table," said Holland. "They've got some good days ahead of them."